Sam the Record Man sign shines over Yonge-Dundas for 1st time in over a decade

Toronto's landmark Sam the Record Man sign shines again in Yonge-Dundas Square more than a decade after the iconic music store shut its doors.

Landmark sign showcases 'magic' of Toronto's music history, Mayor John Tory says

Sam the Record Man sign lights up once again

6 years ago
Duration 0:21
Featured VideoThe iconic Sam the Record Man sign has been lit up once again in Yonge-Dundas Square.

Toronto's landmark Sam the Record Man sign is shining again in the Yonge and Dundas area more than a decade after the iconic music store shut its doors. 

The enormous sign, featuring red neon writing on two spinning vinyl discs, was re-lit Wednesday evening atop 277 Victoria St. overlooking Yonge-Dundas Square — just steps from its former location. 

Mayor John Tory, Coun. Josh Matlow, Ryerson University president Mohamed Lachemi and former owner Sam Sniderman's family attended the lighting ceremony.

Sam the Record Man opened in 1959 and it quickly became a hangout for music lovers in Toronto, becoming a mecca for millions of Toronto music aficionados that lasted almost half a century.

The flashing sign that towered over it was regarded as a symbol of Yonge Street and a cultural touchstone of the city's music history. 

The giant neon sign towered over Sam the Record Man store for nearly a half century and served as a beacon of Toronto's music industry. (Canadian Press )

Tory remembers spending time at the record store growing up and the reputation it earned among Torontonians.   

"I think you knew you were free as a teenager when you were allowed to go to Sam the Record Man by yourself and then you went in there and it was like being in a candy store," Tory told CBC Toronto. 

When the store closed in 2007 the entire location received a heritage designation from the city with the intention of preserving the cultural value of the historic sign.

"We're spoiled today by all these digital signs with the hi-def pictures, but in those days the spinning records was a big deal," said Tory.

"That's why it's part of the heritage of the city, both because music and Sam's were so much a part of that scene for young people and also because it was part of technology that now looks old fashioned."

The building was bought a year later by Ryerson University for future expansion of its downtown campus. It decided to restore the iconic sign and mount it at a new location on the east side of Yonge-Dundas Square.  

Restoration work on the project began in June 2017 and last month the sign was installed over the busy intersection.

"[People] are going to see a bit of the history of music in Toronto, the history of a great entrepreneur and a history of a lot of us of that generation that found it was a magic tour to go to that store as much as we could to buy records," said Tory.